Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

February 21, 2014

WVU students visit Kimball War Memorial

KIMBALL — A group of about 16 to 18 students from the P.I. Reed School of Journalism of West Virginia University along with two of their Professors — Joel Beeson and Elizabeth Oppe — introduced a crowd of people gathered in the auditorium of the Kimball War Memorial to an interactive project based on the book, “War Poems,” written by two sisters, Ada and Ethel Peters, who were students in 1919 at West Virginia State University at Institute.

“The book sat on the shelf at home for years,” Jean Barnes Peters said. She said her husband, Joe Peters, “didn’t even know the little girls,” but she read the book and found it to be “very much a learning experience.”

She said that she shared the book with Associate Professor Beeson who brought the book to the WVU students. “You should be very proud of Dr. Beeson,” she said. “I don’t know any group of students who would expend the amount of energy that this group of students has done.”

Ellis Ray Williams, noted McDowell County educator, opened the evening by reciting the words to the first verse of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the Negro National Anthem, a poem written by James Weldon Johnson.

“We are indeed fortunate to have this group from WVU here with us,” Williams said. “For some reason, (Professor Joel Beeson) loves McDowell County and we want McDowell County to love him.”

Beeson spoke briefly about the program and introduced Casey Hoffman, the graduate student who created the interactive program. Hoffman demonstrated the use of the interactive components of “War Poems” as several in the audience followed along.

“I came here to McDowell County in December for the first time,” Sarah Felton, a WVU graduate student from Fort Ashby said. “I had heard about all of the poverty issues. Then I met the wonderful people here in Kimball. Yes, there are challenges here, but there is also so much here like this Kimball War Memorial. The people are so passionate about their history.”

Laurél Slone, a senior at WVU from Parkersburg said she found the community and the War Memorial fascinating.

“I think it’s interesting how much people care about McDowell County and Kimball,” she said. “It’s neat to be here and see this.”

Kelsey Johnson, also a senior at WVU from Leesburg, Va., said that the Kimball War Memorial has a lot to offer. “We’ve learned about the memorial, and we brought 680 cans of food to Mr. Hammond to share with the food bank,” Johnson said. “All of us have gained from this.”

Oppe said the WVU students will visit Mount View high and middle schools this morning to share information about the launch of “War Poems” with them.

— Contact Bill Archer at

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